Noor Jehan

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Noor Jehan
Birth nameAllah Wasai
Also known asQueen Of Melody (Urdu: ملکہ ترنم)
Born(1926-09-21)September 21, 1926
Kasur, Punjab, British India
DiedDecember 23, 2000(2000-12-23) (aged 74)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
GenresQawwali, Indian music, Pakistani music
Occupationsfilm director, film actress, singer, music composer
Years active1930–1996
 
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Noor Jehan
Birth nameAllah Wasai
Also known asQueen Of Melody (Urdu: ملکہ ترنم)
Born(1926-09-21)September 21, 1926
Kasur, Punjab, British India
DiedDecember 23, 2000(2000-12-23) (aged 74)
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
GenresQawwali, Indian music, Pakistani music
Occupationsfilm director, film actress, singer, music composer
Years active1930–1996

Noorjehan[1][2] or Noorjehan[3] (Punjabi, Urdu: نور جہاں) was the adopted stage name for Pakistani Allah Wasai (September 21, 1926 – December 23, 2000) who was a legendary singer and actress in British India and Pakistan. Her career spanned seven decades. She was renowned as one of the greatest and most influential singers of her time in South Asia and was given the honorific title of Malika-e-Tarannum (Urdu: ملکہ ترنم, English: the queen of melody).[2]

Born in a Punjabi family of musicians, Wasai was pushed by her parents to follow in their musical footsteps and become a singer but she was more interested in acting in films and graced the earliest Pakistani films with her performances. She holds a remarkable record of 10,000 songs to her singing credits in various languages of India and Pakistan including Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and Sindhi languages.[4] Along with Ahmed Rushdi, she holds the highest record of film songs in the history of Pakistani cinema. She is also considered to be the first female Pakistani film director.

In 1957, Jehan was awarded the President's Award for her acting and singing capabilities.

Contents

Early life

Noor Jehan was born in Kasur, Punjab, British India[5] and was one of the eleven children of professional musicians Madad Ali and Fateh Bibi.[4][6]

Career

Wasai began to sing at the age of five or six years old and showed a keen interest in a range of styles, including traditional folk and popular theatre. Realising her potential for singing, her mother sent her to receive early training in classical singing under Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan who was also a native of Kasur. He instructed her in the traditions of the Patiala Gharana of Hindustani classical music and the classical forms of thumri, dhrupad, and khyal.[7] At the age of nine, Wasai drew the attention of Punjabi musician Ghulam Ahmed Chishti,[8] who would later introduce her to stage in Lahore. He composed some ghazals, naats and folk songs for her to perform, although she was more keen in breaking into acting or playback singing. Once her vocational training finished, Wasai pursued a career in singing alongside her sisters in Lahore and would usually take part in the live song and dance performances prior to screenings of films in film theatres.

The family moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in hope of developing the movie careers of Wasai and her sisters. During their stay in Calcutta, the renowned singer Mukhtar Begum, encouraged Wasai and her two older sisters to join film companies and recommended them to various producers. She also recommended them to her husband, Agha Hashar Kashmiri, who owned a maidan theatre (a tented theatre to accommodate large audiences). It was here that Wasai received the stage name Baby Noor Jehan. Her older sisters were offered jobs with one of the Seth Sukh Karnani companies, Indira Movietone and they went on to be known as the Punjab Mail.[4] Wasai would later adopt Mukhtar Begum's way of performance and sari attire.

In 1935, K.D. Mehra directed Pind di Kuri in which Jehan acted along with her sisters. She next acted in a film called Missar Ka Sitara (1936) by the same company and sang in it for music composer, Damodar Sharma. Baby Noor Jehan also played the child role of Heer in the film Heer-Sayyal (1937). After a few years in Calcutta, Noor Jehan returned to Lahore in 1938. In 1939, Ghulam Haider composed songs for Jehan which led to her early popularity. She then recorded her first song Shala Jawaniyan Mane for Dalsukh M. Pancholi's movie Gul Bakavli.

In 1942, she played the main lead opposite Pran in Khadaan. It was her first role as an adult, and the film was a major success. Khandaan's success saw her shifting to Bombay, with director Syed Shaukat Hussain Rizvi. She shared melodies with Shanta Apte in Duhai (1943). It was in this film that Noor Jehan lent her voice for the second time, to another actress named Husn Bano. She married Rizvi later the same year.[9]

In 1945 Jehan played the lead role, alongside Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, in the movie Bari Maa.

In 1945, she achieved a milestone, when she sung a Qawwali with Zohrabai Ambalewali and Kalyani which was "Aahen Na Bhareen Shikave Na Kiye". This was the first ever Qawwali recorded in female voices in South Asian films.

Noor Jehan's (Deepa govindarajan) last film in India was Mirza Sahibaan (1947) which starred Prithviraj Kapoor's brother Trilok Kapoor. Noor Jehan sang 127 songs in Indian films and the number of talking films she made from 1932 to 1947 was 69. The number of silents was 12. Fifty-five of her films were made in Bombay, eight in Calcutta, five in Lahore and one in Rangoon (now Yangon), Burma.

Acting career in Pakistan

After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Rizvi and Jehan decided to move to Pakistan. They left Bombay and settled in Karachi with their family.

Three years after settling in Pakistan, Noor Jehan starred in her first film in Pakistan, Chan wey (1951), opposite Santosh Kumar, which was also her first Punjabi film as a heroine. Shaukat and Noor Jehan directed this film together making Noor Jehan Pakistan's first female director. Noor Jehan's second film in Pakistan was Dopatta (1952) which was Produced by Aslam Lodhi, Directed by S Fazli and assisted by A H Rana as Production Manager. Dopatta turned out to be an even bigger success than Chan wey (1951).

In 1953-54, Jehan and Rizvi were divorced due to personal differences. She kept custody of the three children from their marriage. News of several affairs followed, including one with cricketer, Nazar Mohammad. In 1959, she married another actor, Ejaz Durrani, nine years her junior.[9]

Durrani pressured her to give up acting,[9] and her penultimate film as an actress/singer was Mirza Ghalib (1961). This contributed to the strengthening of her iconic stature. She gained another audience for herself. Her rendition of Faiz Ahmed Faiz's Mujh se pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob naj maang is a unique example of tarranum, reciting poetry as a song. Noor Jehan last acted in Baaji in 1963, though not in a leading role.

Noor Jehan bade farewell to acting in 1963 after a career of 33 years (1930 to 1963). The pressure of being a mother of six children and the demands of being a wife to another actor forced her to give up her career. Noor Jehan made 14 films in Pakistan, ten in Urdu, four in Punjabi.

Noor Jehan as a playback singer

After quitting acting she took up playback singing. She made her debut as a playback singer in 1960 with the film Salma. Her first initial playback for a Pakistani film was for Jan-e-Bahar (1958), in which she sang the song Kaisa Naseeb Layi Thi, picturised on Musarrat Nazir. She received many awards, including the highest Pakistani honour in entertainment, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (The Pride of Performance) in 1966, Pakistan's top civil award. She sang a large number of duets with Ahmed Rushdi, Mehdi Hassan, Masood Rana and Mujeeb Aalam.

She had a great understanding and friendship with many great singers of Asia, for example with the late great Alam Lohar and many more singers also.

In the 1990s Jehan also sang for then débutante actresses Neeli and Reema. For this very reason, Sabiha Khanum affectionately called her Sadabahar (evergreen). Her popularity was further boosted with her patriotic songs during the 1965 war between Pakistan and India.

Jehan visited India in 1982 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Indian talkie movies, where she met Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in New Delhi and was received by Dilip Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar in Mumbai.

Patriotic songs

During the 1965 India-Pakistan war. Noor Jehan sung many patriotic songs enthusiastically, which became tremendously popular. Some of these songs are listed below:

Last years and death

In 1986, on a tour of North America, Jehan suffered from chest pains and was diagnosed with angina pectoris after which she underwent a surgery to install a pacemaker. In 2000, Jehan was hospitalised in Karachi and suffered a heart attack. On December 23, 2000 Jehan died as a result of heart failure. Her funeral took place at Jamia Masjid Sultan, Karachi and she was buried at the Gizri Graveyard near the Saudi Consulate in Karachi.

Filmography

YearFilm
1939Gul Bakavli
Imandaar
Pyam-e-Haq
1940Sajni
Yamla Jat
1941Chaudhry
Red Signal
Umeed
Susral
1942Chandani
Dheeraj
Faryad
Khaandan
1943Nadaan
Duhai
Naukar
1944Lal Haveli
Dost
1945Zeenat
Gaon ki Gori
Badi Maa
Bhai Jaan
1946Anmol Ghadi
Dil
Humjoli
Sofia
Jadoogar
Maharana Pratab
1947Mirza Sahibaan
Jugnu
Abida
Mirabai
1951Chanwey
1952Dopatta
1953Gulnar
Anarkali
1955Patey Khan
1956Lakt-e-Jigar
Intezar
1959Nooran
1958Choomantar
Anarkali
1959Neend
Pardaisan
Koel
1961Mirza Ghalib

References

  1. ^ Firoze Rangoonwalla, Indian Filmography, publisher: J. Udeshi, Bombay, August 1970, passim.
  2. ^ a b Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen, Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema, British Film Institute, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002, pp. 166.
  3. ^ The film poster, Wikipedia article on 1947 Hindi film Jugnu.
  4. ^ a b c "Noor Jehan". Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. http://web.archive.org/web/20080604034301/http://freespace.virgin.net/jamal.akbar/noorbiog1.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  5. ^ Noor Jehan Biography - AOL Music
  6. ^ http://www.hamaraforums.com/index.php?showtopic=33048
  7. ^ "Noor Jehan Biography". http://music.aol.com/artist/noor-jehan/biography/1154238. Retrieved 2008-05-29. 
  8. ^ "G.A. Chishti". http://mazhar.dk/film/musicians/chishti.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  9. ^ a b c "Noor Jehan". http://www.upperstall.com/people/noor-jehan. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 

External links